Jennifer Caldwell, Silvis Junior High School
Years of teaching: 11.
Teaching philosophy: ''I believe that each child is a unique individual with an innate desire to learn. By addressing individual needs, learning styles, interests and social concerns, I can create an environment that the child feels safe and learning would take place on multiple levels.''
''Going above and beyond does not describe the true dedication Mrs. Caldwell exhibits on a daily basis,'' wrote Michael Hughes, principal at George O. Barr Elementary School, in Silvis, when nominating Mrs. Caldwell. ''She can be found organizing our Backpack Snack program, working with the Builder's Club, organizing canned food drives, making treats for children throughout the district, coaching extracurricular events, and attending all events and activities throughout the year.''
''She made science come alive to students,'' wrote Judy Glenn. ''The absence of a science lab and equipment did not hinder her in any way. Jennifer worked tirelessly to make the curriculum exciting and interesting to her students.''
''She always has a smile on her face and joy in her voice,'' wrote 2009 United Township High School graduate Victor Saucedo. ''When you hear her in the classroom laughing with the kids, you can't help but feel she loves what she does.''
Angie Curnyn, Wilson Middle School, Moline
Years of teaching: 12.
Teaching philosophy: ''I have described my philosophy of teaching as an art because of the many factors that go into being an effective teacher.''
''To say Angie exceeds the expectations of employees of the Moline School District would be an understatement,'' Wilson principal Robert Beem wrote in a letter to nominate Mrs. Curnyn. ''Her commitment to children, flexibility in the classroom, willingness to try new teaching strategies and dedication to the educational profession make her a definite asset to the district.''
''She has a genuine passion for her students, just as she does for life, and her students know it,'' wrote colleague Jean Brown. ''Learning is a joy in Angie's room. The spirit of Mrs. Curnyn is one of joy, compassion, fair play and enthusiasm.''
''Some teachers you have throughout your school years think that the only thing they have to do is teach, that's all, nothing more, but Mrs. Curnyn wasn't like that all,'' former student Allison Condit said. ''She made it clear to everyone that she was always there for us, she could help us with any problems we had, school-related or not, or was there if you needed someone to talk to.''
Years of teaching: 10.
Teaching philosophy: "I will do whatever it takes to make sure my students have the best possible chance for success in my classroom.''
''I have taught with Jeff for the past 10 years at Rockridge Junior High and am amazed at the continuation of enthusiasm and love he has for math and educating students,'' wrote colleague Amber Kiddoo in her letter to nominate Mr. Henry. ''Jeff has been the boys' varsity basketball coach for the past 10 years, and the drive and dedication that he has in his classroom is vividly apparent in his coaching as well.''
''Mr. Henry becomes part of his student/athletes families,'' colleague Sue Miller wrote. ''We lost one of our students, Brandon Ballard, to testicular cancer. Brandon's family honored Mr. Henry by having him speak at this young man's funeral. Mr. Henry was even part of a movement that changed legislation in Illinois to require better health screening. The bill was called 'Brandon's Bill.'''
''He has formed what is now referred to as the 'Breakfast Club,' wrote colleague Glen Cook, ''for any student who is struggling with whatever subject ... to receive his help and guidance.''
Years of teaching: 20.
Teaching philosophy: ''Teachers need to teach our children fulfilling educational experiences in order to enrich them in a variety of areas so they can be effective citizens in a global society.''
''Mrs. Hillyer finds that specialness in each boy and girl in her room,'' Jane Addams principal Teresa Landon said. ''She spends her own time, energy and resources to give that child what he or she needs. Last year, this love for students took a new twist, as she had a special first-grader, Gabe Perkins, enter her classroom.'' Cancer treatments led to him missing school a lot, and eventually to his death. Mrs. Hillyer organized fundraisers, special events, and kept in contact with Gabe and his family throughout the ordeal, according to Ms. Landon's letter.
''Despite grueling treatments that left him feeling sick, he never wanted to miss a day of school,'' Gabe's mother Leslie Perkins wrote. ''I also had no hesitations leaving him in the loving and capable hands of Mrs. Hillyer.''
''She can be summed up in one word ... heart,'' wrote Amy Perry. She is the most tenderhearted first-grade teacher you could ever pray that your child could have.''
Years of teaching: 6.
Teaching philosophy: ''I firmly believe that all students, whether they have a disability or not, should have the right to a quality education.''
''Mr. Inman goes beyond regular boundaries to encourage his students' academic and social growth,'' according to a nomination letter from Washington Junior High School staff members. ''Steve also maintains positive relationships with the rest of the student body by being a volleyball coach and managing the Positive Behavior Intervention System student reward store.''
''I met Coach Inman over a year ago when he became my volleyball coach for the Rock Island Destroyers,'' wrote Kylie Jordan Wymer, 11, of Rock Island. ''Coach Inman didn't have a daughter on the team, nor did he get paid to coach us. Coach did it for us because he is that good of a person.''
''When it comes to school spirit, no teacher compares to Mr. Inman,'' wrote Washington Junior High School's science department chairwoman Kathleen Hartzler. ''He serves as the treasurer of our PTA, is student council advisor, yearbook advisor and heads our annual Vendor Fair and Trivia Night. Mr Inman also designs and organizes the selling of our school spirit wear every year.''
Years of teaching: 9.
Teaching philosophy: ''I believe that my life as an educator is to teach the content, to build confidence, to provide guidance, to serve as a source of constant motivation, and to help prepare my students to have successful futures.''
''I know that Liz is an educator that goes above and beyond for her students,'' Lisa Gooch wrote when nominating Ms. Kantner. ''For the past few years, she has organized clothing drives for our ever-growing English language learner population. Three years ago, Liz created an equestrian club ... and allows them to experience an activity that most urban children lack.''
''Although she has had the opportunity to teach elsewhere, literally coast-to-coast, including Santa Fe and New Hampshire, when she felt ready to truly 'settle down,' something drove her back to the Quad-Cities to teach at the alma mater that shaped our lives all those years ago,'' wrote friend Anne Ricchiuto, an attorney at an Indianapolis law firm.''
''Liz takes the time to get to know these (immigrant) students, even learning how to speak some basic sentences in each of the students' native tongue. Liz can tell you each student's country of origin and some of their stories.''
Years of teaching: 11.
Teaching philosophy: '"When students trust that I will respect them always and consistently give them a set of reasonable, yet challenging expectations, they will succeed,''
''A day with Dr. Kirgan is a ride on a bell curve,'' wrote nominator Lori Anderson. ''He starts his morning with our Biology II students, the top 10 of RIHS and their comrades. In contrast, twice each day, Dr.Kirgan switches classrooms and education worlds. He reaches students with significant learning disabilities. ... He patiently encourages students with severe behavior disorders and singer issues.''
''Ben Kirgan is the head of the science department,'' Rock Island-Milan School District superintendent Michael Oberhaus said. ''Beyond his leadership at the school, Ben has been actively pursuing advanced degrees, including achieving his doctorate in 2010.''
''I have known Ben in many capacities over the past 20 years,'' Rock Island High School football coach Vic Boblett said. ''I was Ben's teacher and coach back in the early to mid-1990s. Over the past many years, I have also had the privilege to work with Ben as a colleague. It has become evident to me that Ben was born to teach.''
Years of teaching: 17.
Teaching philosophy: ''My teaching philosophy is that all of my students, with consideration for their cognitive and physical abilities, will be given the best opportunity to be a successful and contributing member of our community.''
''To work in three different buildings, with more than 50 students, seeing each one multiple times during a given week, she practices flexibility, creativity and a great sense of humor,'' wrote Perry Bentsen to nominate Ms. Martens. ''She has mastered her craft, and the beneficiaries are the students.''
''She's changing the way speech therapists interact with their students,'' wrote retired Rock Island High School teacher Paul Jacobson. ''She's changing the way special educators listen to and collaborate with parents. And she's bringing about changes in her students' lives that will stay with them well into adulthood.''
''Lisa is a ray of sunshine for our students and staff each and every day in the special services department,'' wrote case manager Judy Elliott. ''She is always smiling and she is always encouraging the special services students to achieve their goals to the best of their ability. Her laughter and sense of humor is contagious.''
Years of teaching: 11.
Teaching philosophy: ''As philosophies evolve over the years, I have become acutely aware of the fact that if I am going to be the best teacher I can be for my students, I have to be a student as well.''
''As a National Board Certified Teacher, Kelly has been an inspiration and role model for Wilson Middle School staff and students for over 10 years,'' wrote colleague Dan Olson when nominating Ms. Mulcahy. ''Kelly has also been an inspiration to students and staff when she co-founded the Recycling Club at Wilson. Kelly is very passionate about a green Earth.''
''In her 'spare' time, Kelly serves as the commissioner of the city of Moline's Keep Moline Beautiful Commission, which focuses on recycling projects, beautification projects, the Earth Day fair, and numerous other city endeavors,'' Wilson Middle School principal Robert Beem wrote.
''When it comes to teaching, I would describe Kelly as a 'go-getter,' wrote colleague Susie Smice. ''She is not afraid to try new strategies or initiatives in her classroom, She is all about what's best for the kids. At Wilson, Kelly is in charge of the Geography Bee. She also is co-coordinator of the W.E.B. (Where Everybody Belongs) program.
Years of teaching: 26.
Teaching philosophy: ''I encourage creativity and craftsmanship, so students understand there are many ways to work, but one must take pride in their efforts.''
''He is much more than a teacher to his students,'' wrote Moline High School principal William Burrus in his letter nominating Mr. Ryser. ''He is a mentor, an advocate, and more often then not, a friend for life. But what is equally, and maybe more impressive, is Joel's concern for the less fortunate. While serving as head football coach at Moline High School, Joel founded and organized the yearly 'Challenger Football Game.'' This is an opportunity for special-needs students to get the 'on-the-field' experienced of playing football on Browning Field alongside the varsity football team.''
''Joel has worn many hats in the time I have known him,'' wrote assistant principal Wayne Cabel. ''Art teacher, advisor, department chair and head football coach to name a few.''
''Recently, Joel challenged the art students, teachers, parents, members of the community and local artists to become involved in the 'Empty Bowl Project' for the annual hunger drive,'' former Moline mayor Stan Leach wrote. ''Twelve hundred pottery bowls were made and purchased by those attending the event.''
Subject: Health and physical education.
Years of teaching: 10.
Teaching philosophy: ''As an educator, one has to have the need and want to help motivate students, nurture and educate then, and provide them with the tools one believes are important to guide them through school, work and life.''
''Melissa has become a model for her fellow teachers,'' wrote Andrew Apicella in his letter nominating Mrs. Secker. ''Melissa is the sponsor for the Riverdale Chapter of the National Honor Society. Each year, the group raises money to purchase holiday gifts for local families in need. Through Melissa's guidance, the group has always raised more money than in the previous year.''
''There are some teachers that just make teaching look easy, and Melissa is one of them,'' Riverdale superintendent Ronald Jacobs wrote. ''She is perpetually smiling, and having fun with her students.''
''Mrs. Secker was also one of the coaches for the Riverdale girls' basketball team,'' wrote Carly Hohenboken. ''Of all the coaches I have had in my life, Mrs. Secker is one of the most encouraging and positive coaches I have ever had. It takes a lot to coach a group of young high school girls, and never once did Mrs. Secker lose her patience.''
Years of teaching: 12.
Teaching philosophy: ''I truly feel that all people should have a better understanding of what their world is all about.''
''Nancy Wolber is what is right about teaching,'' colleague Andy Campbell wrote to nominate Mrs. Wolber. ''She is selfless, encouraging, strong-minded and demonstrative. She is in charge of the Environmental Action Club at RIHS, in addition to her teaching duties. Within the club, she leads the recycling efforts at RIHS, volunteers with her students at Bald Eagle Days and organizes a trip during the summer months to Costa Rica.''
''I think of Ms. Wolber as imbued with the best characteristics of Ms. Frizzle (of the Magic Schoolbus),'' Augustana College art professor and department chairwoman Megan Quinn wrote. ''She could make your backyard the most exciting place on the planet. I signed up for an event, which was a frog count for Nahant Marsh; it turned out to be a challenging, but magical event.''
''While taking part with the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education's environmental committee, Nancy enthusiastically helped develop new earth-friendly opportunities for Rock Island County teachers,'' wrote retired regional superintendent Joe Vermeire, ''from butterfly gardens to monitoring home usage of energy.''
Rock island, IL Details
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